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Literary Foils: Definition and Examples

Han Solo vs Luke Skywalker

Since my last post, I’ve almost finished Tomcat In Love, and it has been somewhat of an exercise in frustration. This isn’t due to the book itself; it’s more due to the fact that the narrator is one of the most profoundly annoying protagonists I’ve ever encountered in fiction. He is a narcissist with a complete lack of self-awareness (at least until the last forty pages), and an unrepentant womanizer. Early on in the novel, we’re introduced to a woman who immediately provides a voice of reason, and helps serve as a reader surrogate. Everything that Thomas believes himself to be, Donna firmly states this is not the case, and her protests to his behavior make his ridiculous narcissism stand out even more boldly. She is a perfect foil to Thomas’s insanity.

Circumlocution: Definition and Literary Uses

Right now, I’m reading Tim O’Brien’s Tomcat In Love, which, in a nutshell, is about a middle-aged linguistics professor in Minnesota who is trying to win his ex-wife back by sabotaging her new marriage. He’s also quite possibly a crazy person…

What’s the Difference Between Symbol vs. Motif?

divergent symbols

Last week, I blitzed through Veronica Roth’s Divergent in about a day. For as long as it was, it was a really quick read, which is good if I plan on seeing the movie in the next week or so.

What Is Infodumping? And How Can You Avoid It?

Dump Truck

Two summers ago, I started watching Lost. Two Christmases ago, I finished season 2. I’ve already been told not to expect resolution for pretty much anything, so I have been delaying watching the rest of the series so I don’t get too emotionally attached and start having expectations of answers. As a result, I’m still working my way through season 3. I watched two more episodes earlier this month after an 8-month hiatus. Thankfully, there’s the “previously on Lost” montage to get me caught up quickly.

Wikipedia has a fun name for the aforementioned previously-on-Lost montage: infodumping.

What Is Invective and How Can It Help Your Storytelling?


I have a soft spot for British humor. I believe this stems from my first viewing of Monty Python and the Holy Grail in high school. One of the first scenes after the knights receive their commission from God involves King Arthur and his knights trying to get into a French-controlled castle where they believe the Grail is being held. They attempt to talk their way in, but are met with strong verbal rebuffs from the sentry. Insults are hurled from the top of the gate, and the Knights of the Round Table make a hasty retreat after their egos have been sufficiently bruised.

The Frenchman’s barrage of creative insults is an example of what is known as invective.

Are You a Prescriptivist or a Descriptivist When It Comes to Grammar?

prescriptivism in grammar

Grammar is a funny thing. In the English language, there has been a great deal of evolution, both in words and in structure. Any Google search for “words we don’t use anymore” will come up with lists of vocabulary that no one has spoken since Matthew Crawley’s car wreck (spoiler alert).

As much as I may rage about using “proper” grammar, I also have to admit grammar itself undergoes major transformations, and there are two schools of thought about how to react to these changes: prescriptivism and descriptivism.

Why Grammar, Spelling, and Usage Matter

Grammar is Sexy

Anyone who has been following The Write Practice since day one knows how I feel about the semicolon, sentence structure, spelling, and other grammatical foibles. If a writer lacks any of these things in his or her work, it drives me crazy. I’ll start railing on about the destruction of the English language, the dumbing down of society, blah blah blah.

But why would any writer care about what I think?

The Poor, Misunderstood Semicolon


Wait a second. Did you just hear that?

Pick meeeee…

There it is. You heard it, too. Don’t try to tell me you didn’t.

That was the sound of a semicolon in the throes of a self-esteem battle.

Synesthesia In Literature: Definition and Examples


A couple of my friends are synesthetes, which means that they experience reactions from more than one sense from the same stimulus. For example, letters and numbers might have colors, or names might have a flavor. I remember one saying that lockers tasted like chicken nuggets. Of course, she hadn’t actually licked the lockers, and I guarantee that they wouldn’t taste like fried chicken.

The Five Stages of Grief Can Help Your Writing

5 stages of grief

The city of Denver is slowly picking itself up off its feet after this weekend. While I am happy for Seattle (everyone should have the feeling of victory at least once in a while), it was a really hard game to watch. At the Super Bowl party I attended, by the time the third quarter was winding down, most of us had been through all five stages of grief, and were accepting the comfort of beer and queso. And those stages of grief are the inspiration for today’s post.